At 8:46pm tonight I received a news alert from the New York Times that read "Senate Democrats Likely to Drop Medicare Expansion." I thought I read it wrong, or the Times was mistaken, or maybe the headline was just misleading/catchy so people would read the article which would result in more revenue in advertisements. Unfortunately, it was none of these scenarios.
The article quotes Senator Baucus saying he thinks that the headline is what is going to happen, and Senator Reid didn't even want to answer any questions when the Democrats came out of a meeting. I was willing to live with the proposal of people being able to buy into Medicare at 55. At least it was something. When Social Security was first created the average for people to live was 58 for a male and 61 if you were a female, but individuals couldn't receive benefits until they were 65. Maybe I was fooling myself, but the Social Security program has grown a lot since then. So I thought it was like that, baby steps.
But there's not steps being taken here. Insurance companies dominate the states they are in. There is no market, you either can afford insurance or you can't and that's that. President Obama has stated many times that we need to lower prices or no one in the country will be insured. Without any sort of public option, expansion of Medicare, buy in clause people to buy into the insurance plans federally employees (including members of Congress) get, insurance coverage will either stay the same or more likely be raised. Which means that by 2019 health care costs will raise more then all other domestic programs, including defense.
In my very first blog entry I tried to explain how health insurance works. The supply demand equation does not work. Especially if providers are more worried about making a profit and not spending money on the people who pay into their fees.
Even if there was a clause in the bill that allowed insurance companies to compete across state borders (a Republican idea) it would lower costs because it gives people more options. If insurance companies want people to pay them anything, they'll give them the best deal possible based on what other companies are offering. But if there are no other companies (and in most states there are little to sometimes none) companies can charge as much as they want and make huge profits. There is now nothing being offered in the Senate version of health care that will fix this prolem.
During the holiday season I always hear the phrase that this is the time for giving. Democrats wanted to pass health care legislation before Christmas, but now even if something does pass, it won't give anything to the 50 million American's who are uninsured.